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Government must ensure ‘well-targeted’ support for ag sector amid pandemic

This is an extraordinary time to be involved in our food and drink supply chain says Mike Rumbles, MSP for the North East of Scotland. 

There has rightly been a huge amount of praise for NHS staff, the care sector and all our emergency services.

 

But many people have also recognised the vital importance of our local producers and suppliers and all the key industries that put food on our plates.

 

It has been a difficult time for the agricultural sector, and the Covid-19 outbreak is only the latest challenge for many farm businesses. It is another clear sign that we need to stop taking our food and drink producers for granted and do more to support all our rural industries in Scotland.

Long-term

 

That means a plan for the long-term. People are changing what they eat, more is expected from the sector to reduce the carbon footprint of food and drink production and all of that is against a backdrop of uncertainty.

 

While it will be some time before life can return to normal, I want to see both the UK and the Scottish Governments use this opportunity to work together and focus on the issues that matter most to our communities and economy.

 

That must include a thorough plan and well-targeted support for our agricultural sector. Our governments need to be clearer about what they want from our farm businesses and what will be expected of them, so they can plan for the future with confidence.

 

Measures

 

In the short-term, there many ways our governments can help. Such as ensuring that prices are fair and transparent and that retailers pay for goods within a reasonable timeframe.

 

Soft fruit producers need to know now whether they will have access to enough seasonal workers throughout harvest and tenant farmers need security to be able to make decisions about investing in the future.

 

Supply chain

 

It is also important to take measures to protect those that are continuing to work in the food supply chain from becoming ill themselves. I know that Government ministers will want to do everything they can to ensure the supply chain remains secure during this period.


No-one doubts that this will be a difficult period for many of our rural industries so I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the work you are doing.


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